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Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: Detainees not criminals

Despite the claims by Trevor Willis (Letters, November 27), the asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru are not criminals.

None of them has even been charged with, let alone convicted of, a crime.

The United Nations Refugee Convention, of which Australia is a signatory, recognises that people seeking asylum often need to enter a country without permission or valid documents.

By signing the convention, Australia has agreed not to punish refugees for entering the country without permission or restrict their freedom of movement.

Around 90 per cent of the people on Manus Island and Nauru have been found to be genuine refugees and many of the others have appealed against adverse findings.

The convention also states that refugees cannot be returned to places where they are likely to suffer persecution or inhumane treatment.

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Yet Australia regularly does this, offering refugees large monetary payments to return or deporting them if they refuse to accept the bribe.

Charles Body, Kaleen

Let's swap people

I have to agree with Trevor Willis, (Letters, November 27) in relation to Manus Island and people trying to enter into Australia illegally.

However, I think I have a solution to the current Manus island refugee standoff.

Maybe we could implement a refugee people swap. We could bring all the current internees from Manus island to Australia and in return we could send over there all the left-wing anarchists from the Greens who made fools of themselves at the Tony Abbott fundraiser in Sydney earlier this month.

A. Pavelic, Jerrabomberra, NSW

Patience has limits

I have had an on-and-off relationship with the ALP over many years. Voted for them on and off but not joined.

I joined the party when Julia Gillard was chosen as leader and appealed for supporters, which I had been, to join the party.

She was an absolute breath of fresh air. Then I witnessed Kevin Rudd actively undermine her and Rudd organised a coup. I resigned because I didn't believe that the party should reward blatant treachery. I rejoined because of my experience in the Department of Immigration and my commitment to making sure the ALP adopted a humane and acceptable asylum seeker policy.

I worked hard developing a "better way policy" and managed this through my  sub-branch (seconded by former Hawke minister John Kerin) and helped local policy committees carry resolutions along similar lines.

I am now outraged by the response of my local members to the argument that the ALP must change its policy – all of them.

They have demonstrated an absolute simplistic response to the issue, as has the caucus. In fact, a demonstrably ignorant one. I have given up trying to get any politician in the ACT to think it through and to come up with a solution.

My brother recently said that we should not be talking about how we have got to this position with our asylum seekers, but we should support whoever will fixit.

Waiting to find someone, but my loyalty is being stretched.

Terry Walls, Mawson

Have sense prevail

During the election campaign, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced Queensland Labor would veto the loan of $1 billion from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility to Adani for its Carmichael coal mine project.

On Sunday (November 26) she confirmed that she "would follow through on the veto".

It was also reported Senator Matt Canavan, the Adani project's strongest supporter in federal cabinet, had conceded that the project "was now unlikely to go ahead".

The proposed Adani coal mine is not what the Great Barrier Reef needs, not what Australia needs, and not what the world needs at this point in history.

Let's hope that reality and common sense have at last been grasped by some of the politicians who have until  recently been most involved with promoting this destructive project.

Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin

Time marches on

It appears that President Trump doesn't want to be Time's "Person of the Year" this year. Time magazine has, in hindsight, occasionally got it wrong with Haile Selassie, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Ruhollah Khomeini being some of the title-holders who are no longer held in so positive a regard. This is probably not the peer group that most people would want to be a member of.

Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill, Vic

Principle offender

Poor Malcolm: talk about an emperor with no clothes ("Malcolm Turnbull derailed by cabinet leaks and Nationals rebellion over banks", canberratimes.com.au, November 25).

On the one hand, our  Prime Minister asserts that we don't do "witch-hunts" in Australia, having previously threatened to call a double dissolution of Parliament unless it supported a royal commission on the trade union movement, while on the other he piously opposes an inquiry to scrutinise the litany of scandals that have plagued Australia's banking and financial sector, arguing it would "take a long time, cost a lot of money" and make recommendations to do things his government reckons it is already doing.

No need for a witch-hunt to spot the hypocrisy and lack of principle in that behaviour.

John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW

Reign over us

The Australian Monarchist League is delighted at the announcement by the Prince of Wales of the engagement of his son, Prince Harry, to Ms Meghan Markle and of the forthcoming wedding to take place in spring 2018. We send to HRH Prince Harry and Ms Markle our very best wishes for every happiness.

Philip Benwell, national chair, Australian Monarchist League

Ignorance is bliss

M. Flint (Letters, November 28) stopped reading Ian Warden "20 years ago" and had to be tipped off so he could rant and rail against one of the veteran wordsmith's latest offerings.

He has my sympathy. I've enjoyed Ian's whimsical take on all things Canberran (and a good deal else) for years even though I have, on many occasions, not seen eye to eye with him.

If you only read what you agree with you'll never learn or grow.

M. Moore, Bonython

Give me land, lots of land and my own house, don't fence me in

In the past 10 years the house prices have risen dramatically and the unit prices have not. That's a simple message telling town planners and architects that many people don't want to be forced into ever smaller blocks of land.

Some people do want small units without car parking and others like high-rise. They should be catered for as well in proportion to their numbers.

In the spirit of democracy therefore, the ACT government needs to release more land for those wanting a single stand-alone house on an approximately 800 square metre block of land.

These people want to have enough room for the kids to play in the backyard, a vegie patch, a sunny clothes line and plenty of car parking when the kids are teenagers. The recent artificial restriction of the release of land for housing in Canberra has forced many families into satellite towns around Queanbeyan, Bungendore and Murrumbateman, which is environmentally irresponsible both in time and energy.

John Skurr, Deakin

Backyard paradise

We can't rely on real estate agents and spec/project builders any more to determine residential densification ("Cap plot ratios at 35 per cent", November 27, p1).

Owner-occupier-controlled incremental growth is best for the suburbs, in all zones. This means mainly small-scale extensions, alterations, and additions to add living options, while preserving existing character, notably the important, interconnected green backyard swath.

Jack Kershaw, Kambah

Brushing up

Me and my mates at the local tennis club were puzzling over how it could cost $7000 for some volunteers to paint coloured circles on a roundabout ("All the colours of the ... roundabout", November 23, p2). Then one bright spark suggested that it was $6500 for the traffic controllers in their orange overalls and $500 for the paint. That must have been it, I reckon.

David Pederson, O'Connor

Outsmarted

The decision to implement SMART Meter technology across Australia has been made by the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) and the ability to opt out of having a SM installed at your house will apparently be limited as of December 1. Why?

Because the "rules" of the AEMC have the "force of law" in Australia and the AEMC, a non-elected body, has decided to implement the technology nationwide, including a "competitive model" for meter installation, maintenance and service, which effectively removes responsibility for your home meter from ActewAGL and other state providers as of December 1.

If you want to opt out of having this technology in your home, you will have to do it now through ActewAGL rather than having to deal with a private company when the meters are rolled out in the ACT in the future.

There are many reasons to opt out of having a SMART Meter in your home: privacy, security, health, increased energy cost, dubious consumer benefits and unrealised network savings.

Dr Merrilyn Fitzpatrick,  Ngunnawal

Brought to heal

It's far easier to find a family GP in country NSW than Canberra. Without interventions such as the brilliantly conceived nurse clinics Canberrans will be dropping like  flies in a drought, from undiagnosed chronic illnesses.

I waited approximately  2 hours at an ACT GP's super clinic, to be prescribed antibiotics for an ingrown nose hair in 2011.

Shortly thereafter I moved to Crookwell, a gold mine for GPs, and was diagnosed with a serious diabetic condition.

Under federal funding arrangements, I was then educated fabulously on diabetes management by educators at ACT endocrinology outpatients.

The dissembling criticisms of nurse-led stations by some Canberra GPs is disappointing and unhelpful.

Matt Ford, Crookwell, NSW

Time and motion

Having a son in the throes of selling one house and buying another, I have been looking at web ads for houses for sale.

Some of these ads include a suburb profile, showing typical travel times by four means.

If I interpret the icons correctly these are bus, car, walking and bicycle.

For the three suburbs that I looked at, the car, walking and bicycle travel times seem reasonable. The bus travel times are ridiculous.

For one suburb, the bus time given is the same as the walking time. In the other two, one suburb has the bus taking half the time of walking, the other a third the time.

I do not know who provides these figures.

Perhaps they are estimates of travel times for a future transport network.

Bruce Cook, Aranda

Undiplomatic policy

On Monday, at lunchtime, on the zebra crossing in front of Woden library, I was nearly skittled by a DC-plated vehicle driven by a woman who seemed totally unaware that cars must stop to allow pedestrians to cross.

If she had knocked down a elderly local on the crossing, she would have undoubtedly pleaded diplomatic immunity.

Perhaps it's time for DFAT or the AFP (diplomatic liaison branch) to remind our diplomatic friends that driving in our country does not preclude them from obeying our road rules.

Christina Faulk, Swinger Hill, ACT

The long way home

I'm afraid, Mr Macnaught, that trains, like planes, get cancelled to suit the convenience to the operator (Letters, November 28).

I used to take the train to Sydney airport for international flights, until we ended up on a bus anyway – the very thing I had paid a premium to avoid.

The cause was track work in the Sydney network, but instead of starting the country train at Campbelltown we were bussed the whole way from Central to Canberra via the circuitous railway route.

To rub salt in the wound, we had to walk past the cheaper, faster, more direct Murrays and Greyhound offerings and pay more than $40 (train and taxi cost about the same) to get our family to Central station for our railway bus.

Ian Douglas, Jerrabomberra, NSW

Stupidity afoot

Do all the Queenslanders who just voted ALP realise they also voted for a 50 per cent RET (Renewable Energy Target) that will only be met by building vast numbers of wind generators and solar farms and, to accommodate them, shutting down current power stations now generating low-cost, reliable power – and all for no proven environmental benefit. This is not the equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot; more like blowing a whole leg off.

Doug Hurst, Chapman

Hot on Triple J

Apparently the Triple J Hottest 100 has greater cultural significance than millenniums of Aboriginal history.

Peter Edsor, Bungendore

TO THE POINT

DECISION FLUID

Our Prime Minister is one of 12 world leaders making up the UN High Level Panel on Water.

The  panel is calling for action put water at the centre of the global agenda for sustainability.

It aims to bring about urgent changes in the sector and recognises this requires "increased political will and commitment to tackle challenges at the local, national and international levels".

Will the current state of play in the Murray-Darling Basin be put forward to the UN and to next year's World Water Forum as an example of Australia's adherence to these requirements?

Ian White, Emeritus Professor Water Resources, Australian National University

SEND THE NAVY

C'mon, Malcolm, show  initiative and send some naval ships to Bali to rescue tourists isolated there. Might even win over some voters. This volcano position could last weeks.

Mark Howard, Forde 

EVIDENCE OF LOSS

If Malcolm Turnbull's claim that Kristina Keneally wants to bring asylum seekers to Australia is supposed to help the Liberal cause in Bennelong, it is just further evidence how completely he has lost it.

Dick Varley, Braidwood, NSW 

ABETZ BAFFLES 

How is Eric Abetz's religious freedom curtailed by marriage equality? He is still free to go to church and marry heterosexually.

Michael McCarthy, Deakin 

BLOWING IN THE WIND

When I was young (I'm now in my 80s), the nearest thing to sexual harassment we endured, was the occasional wolf whistle. Oh, for the good old days!

Gloria Byrne, Hughes 

TURNBULL DESCENDS

If Malcolm Turnbull's utterances about Kristina Keneally being a tool in the alleged revival of the activities of people smugglers are accurately reported, what does that make him?

Simply put, Prime Minister, you are now down there with your predecessor's broken promises (lies).

Ted Tregillgas, Flynn 

A RENEWABLE FUTURE

Today the Nationals proposed a new coal fired power station in the Hunter Valley.

Well, now that we well and truly have a better (and cheaper) alternative with wind and solar energy, why on earth are these things being built in this day and age?

And let's not forget that during the February heatwave when demand peaked, 3GW of coal and gas generators were unavailable due to overheating, boiler tube leaks and fuel problems.

If we just add flexible batteries, which are improving all the time, and pumped hydro we will have a much better system and better future prospects for generations to come.

Murray Kelly, Queanbeyan, NSW

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